Friday, January 20, 2017

Celebrating Three Years of the Reading Envy Podcast

This turned into a long happy post about three great years. If you have been a guest or a listener, I appreciate you! It's a love fest. Now tell me about the books you've read recently, and I'll have what you're reading. 

On the 20th of January, 2014, the first episode of the Reading Envy Podcast posted. Scott Danielson, originating co-host, chatted with me, Jenny, about books. You can relive that moment by listening to Episode 001.

Something you may not know - there was another first episode that we recorded to see how things would work, and never posted it. It's buried deep on the cutting room floor.

On Episode 001, Scott discussed a short story from Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, a collection of stories by James Tiptree, Jr. That book has followed a thread through the podcast. On Episode 002, I discussed the entire collection, which I had just finished. A year and a half later, on Episode 032, Luke Burrage and I discussed the collection story by story for a crossover episode with the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast.

I love when one guest inspires another guest to read a book based on hearing about it on the podcast! What else could reading envy even be?

For most of that first year, episodes posted once a month. At first, there were three people on each episode and each person discussed three books. This made the episodes too long! The magical formula these days is six books per episode, either two each for three people or three each for two.

The first book club episode I recorded was in 2014, with Josh Lawrence and terpkristin. Our discussion on Episode 013 focused on what it is like to be part of the Sword and Laser book club. Not too long after, Karen and Jean talked on Episode 015 about the League of Extraordinary Dorks book club.

By the end of 2014, the Reading Envy Podcast had hit 19 episodes, after a switch to two episodes a month in the middle of the year.

2015 kicked off with my first author interview episode, Episode 021 with Darin Bradley. I was so nervous! But I liked how it went, and that year would also see interviews with Joni Tevis (Episode 029), Ann VanderMeer (Episode 036), Monica Byrne (Episode 038), and Nathan Ballingrud (Episode 041.) I haven't done any author interviews since, but not for lack of trying!

2015 also saw one more book club episode, with Marco and Averi from the Misfit Readers on Episode 023. I also interviewed a bunch of librarians at conferences this year - Episode 029 found me approaching a bunch of librarians I didn't know at a conference in Portland, and Episode 043 recorded 100 librarians talking about books for the 100th anniversary of the South Carolina Library Association. I have gone back to the librarian episodes and read many books mentioned in those episodes; they are great for building up your tbr list!

This past year, most of the episodes have been me and one guest, with the exception of one more book club episode with Holly and Caroline from the International Center of the Upstate (Episode 049) and when Scott and Phillip were both guests on the same episode based on Philip's request (Episode 052.)

2016 also saw the return of a hearty handful of great guests, who I hope will keep coming back. I'm happy to pick up new guests too, and I am looking forward to 2017. If you are interested in appearing on the podcast please view the FAQ .

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Reading Envy 077: No One Messes With a Wolf

Shawn Mooney joins Jenny for a chat about books in the Reading Envy pub, braving snow storms and earthquakes! Stay tuned for a mid-podcast announcement!

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 077: No One Messes With a Wolf.
Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

If you are interested in appearing on the podcast: FAQ 

Books discussed:

Hide by Matthew Griffin
The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky
The Break by Katherena Vermette
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
A Paper Son by Jason Buchholz
Enigma Variations by Andre Aciman

Shawn's list of recommended gay novels and memoirs:

A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
Safe as Houses by Alex Jeffers
Breakfast with Scot by Michael Downing
Heaven's Coast by Mark Doty
Now and Then by William Corlett
Memory Board by Jane Rule
Ready To Catch Him Should He Fall by Neil Bartlett
The Body and Its Dangers and other stories by Allen Barnett

Other mentions:

Book Riot podcasts
Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel
Ulysses by James Joyce
Neil Gaiman
Tournament of Books longlist 
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Governor General's Prize (Canada)


Little break to say Happy Anniversary to Reading Envy!
25 More Outstanding Podcasts for Readers
Link to the survey about the readalong!


Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Autumn by Ali Smith
The Collected Stories of Mavis Gallant
Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge
One Native Life by Richard Wagamese
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie 

Related Episodes:
Episode 074 - The Books We Didn't Love in High School with Blaine DeSantis
Episode 076 - Borderlands (Reading Goals 2017) 

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Shawn at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Shawn on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy  
Shawn is @shawnmooney on Litsy

And for something super-meta, here is Shawn's Goodreads shelf labeled Reading Envy Podcast Recommends.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Library Books Mid-January 2017

This stack is really more of a reflection of the books I've brought home from the library since I went back to work on January 3, but that seems to be plenty! The Tournament of Books longlist and an upcoming book club discussion that I am leading fuel many of these.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
After by Claire Tristram
Ground Zero: Nagasaki Stories by Yuichi Seirai
Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
The Lightkeepers by Ally Geni
Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

The Hatton, Geni, Anderson, and Ivey were all contenders for the Tournament of Books, but none of them made the short list. That's okay, I'm still going to read them anyway. Actually I only have one left!

I'm leading a discussion next month on A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton. I felt like I needed a better grounding on Nagasaki, so that is why I have the Seirai (translated) and the Southard. I need to get cracking on those, and a reread of the Copleton!

I snagged the Jiles, Botton, and Hoffman from the new books cart in the library where I work, and requested the Tristram from interlibrary loan after hearing about it from my friend (who is the author!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reading Envy 076: Borderlands (Reading Goals 2017)

Jenny sits in a corner alone at the Reading Envy pub and reflects on the goals of 2016, establishes new goals for the new year, and finishes up a few book speed-dating projects.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 076: Borderlands.

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

Relevant links:
Original 2016 reading goals
Africa2016 reading report (this is where the top five are listed)

Goals for 2017:
  1. Read books from the borders, from people who are displaced or forced out, and maybe indigenous groups. 
  2. Host a Reading Envy readalong of East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  3. Read about mythology
  4. Actually read books from book subscriptions I have
  5. Explore indie/micro/small presses
Speed-Dating Round 5 of 2016

Wave by Sonya Deraniyagala
The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets by Deb Richardson-Moore
Time and Again by Jack Finney
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle
Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre 
Boston Noir: Stories edited by Dennis Lehane
Old Filth by Jane Gardam
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
My Sergei: A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Speed-Dating Round 6 of 2016

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
A Short History of a Small Place by T.R. Pearson
Edible Stories: A Novel in Sixteen Parts by Mark Kurlansky
Bluebeard's Egg: Stories by Margaret Atwood
Skinned Alive: Stories by Edmund White
House Rules by Rachel Sontag
Devils in the Sugar Shop by Timothy Schaffert
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Stalk me online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Reading Challenges: Read Harder and Pop Sugar

I got sucked into these and thought I'd share what I read!

Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge:

And the Pop Sugar challenge:

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reading by the Numbers

I already posted my list of top reads from 2016, but here is the rest of it! Between Goodreads and all my extra shelves I create, I track quite a bit of data that I personally find interesting.

Around the end of December, Goodreads users get greeted by their year in review, automatically generated. These numbers are actually a bit high because it includes the books I abandoned, since I track those too. But they are close.

In 2015, I read 244 books and 65,186 pages. So in one year I increased by roughly 38% in each way of counting, accounting for the handful of abandoned books which shouldn't count but do. I may find a new way to keep track of abandoned titles in 2017. My Read in 2016 shelf says 327 books, which sounds about right.

Last year I read about 50/50 male/female authors; this year my numbers skewed more to female, at about 58%. This isn't the only diverse category I'm interested in but I feel strange tracking authors for other things. Just know that I have been reading widely and diversely and feel pleased that this list is not just all dead white men.

Format is always interesting to me. This year I read 188 (56%) books in print, 125 (37%) in eBook, and 24 (7%) in audiobook. That makes about 2 audiobooks a month. I used to only read library and review copy books in eBook but now that I have a Kindle Paperwhite, that accounts for some increase. I really love reading on it, and it has been a help when I travel. A large amount of the audio and eBooks I read are review copies, and overall I read 109 review copy books this year, accounting for 32% of the books I read, so almost one third. I request review copies, and it is a rare day where I will blindly accept an offer (so please don't get any ideas.) I go looking for specific titles and stick with those.

Other technological shifts that changed some of how I read included learning about Hoopla through the public library (with audiobook and eBook downloads) and the Serial Reader app, which distributes daily content of classics in eBook format. While those were not a huge percentage of the books I read (and they are accounted for in the above format breakdown), this was the first year I read using either of those methods.

I read a lot of books because of award lists. In 2016, that broke down this way:
Baileys Prize - 4
Dylan Thomas - 4
Giller Prize - 1 
Man Booker - 9
Hugo - 3
National Book Award - 6
Nebula - 3
Pulitzer - 2
Tournament of Books - 2

My book club alliances have shifted slightly, and I need to keep better track of books I read because of various groups in Goodreads and Litsy, but here is what I kept track of:

International Center Book Club (in-person) - 9
League of Extraordinary Dorks - 1
Sword and Laser - 6
Misfit Readers - 2
Postal Book Group - 5

And here is a hodgepodge list of various genres and subgenres that I track because I'm interested in getting back to them easily. Some of them I looked at percentages too, just out of curiosity, so will include those when relevant. I felt like I read less science fiction and fantasy this year but it was actually slightly more than last year. I love that 11% of my entire reading list was of translated works. Those were the two surprises.

Africa2016 - 38 (11%)
Around the World - 60
Banned Books - 3
Biography and memoir - 23
Books on Books - 5
Cold Weather Islands - 12
Creative Non-Fiction - 13
Cults & Communes - 4
Graphic novels and comics - 10
Poetry - 39 (12%)
Post-apocalypse and dystopia - 9
Romance - 17
Science Fiction & Fantasy - 43
Secret Agents & Detectives - 4
Short Story Collections - 19
Southern - 8 (this may be low, not sure I caught all of them)
Spooktober - 5
Translated - 36 (11%)
Travel Writing - 7
YA - 17

Jenny's Best Books of 2016

I talked about most of my top books of the year on Episode 075 of the Reading Envy Podcast. But at a glance, it's not easy to figure out which are my picks, and I have a few more I want to mention. Bear with, bear with. I read 337 books in 2016 and so many were fantastic. These are not the only good reads but the cream of the crop.

Many of my favorite reads were books translated into English.

The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

Five of my favorite titles were poetry anthologies, three that came from my Africa 2016 reading. The last three were given to me as review copies but I wish I had them on my shelf with their beautiful artwork, especially the chapbook collections. Those are going on my shopping list for 2017. 

Ark by Ed Madden
Physical by Andrew McMillan
New-Generation African Poets (tatu) ed. By Kwame Dawes
New-Generation African Poets (nne) ed. By Kwame Dawes
The January Children by January Elhillo

Two titles were from award lists - one won the Pulitzer and the other was shortlisted for the Man Booker (while winning other awards.) Both took place partially in Asia, both were excellent reads.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Three titles, all very different from one another, all had one thing in common - a very strong female voice, and cold weather islands. Different genres, different islands, but unforgettable.

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

One book lingers without a grouping, but I have to include it. An Instagram friend tells me I will find his other books just as memorable and I can't wait. This is a great read about marriage and identity, as true now as it was in 1975.